For breakfast I chose the “Western” option. Honestly, by this stage, I was wanting something other than Japanese food (I think I may have dreamed about pasta at one stage.)
Like dinner, it was small, but enough to get me going (and it did include pasta salad!):
I was going to be saying goodbye to the coast for a while today and I headed a little bit inland to cross the Shimanto river – the 2nd largest river in Shikoku. If you head along the coast there is apparently a ferry you can take, but it involves calling someone up and asking them nicely to ferry you across the river on their boat and that’s not really my thing, so I was heading for the bridge.
Along the way I walked alongside another turtle orgy and that kept me entertained.
I tried not to think too hard about how far it was until the next temple but the damn roadside sign posts kept reminding me!
I stopped at a convenience store about 10kms from my hotel to grab a drink and snack and while I was sitting there in the allotted pilgrim rest area, a couple of guys in a car with Osaka number plates thrust a couple of home-made rice balls at me and wished me well. The rice balls were massive and I didn’t fancy carrying them in my bag (I’d already scoffed the rice ball I’d just bought and drunk most of my canned coffee) so I said that just one riceball would be sufficient. They laughed and handed me one, before taking off in their car.
It had been lightly raining on and off all morning so I had my first layer of wet weather gear on as I strode across the bridge which is about 1km long.
I could see another pilgrim in front of me who had been shadowing me for a while and I was a little disappointed to see that he didn’t keep his stick off the bridge as you’re meant to. I made it my goal for the day to try and overtake him and beat him with my stick (just kidding…)
Once again the river would have been quite scenic if it had been fine and as this was the part of the river close to the ocean, it was a bit more ‘citified’ compared to upstream where it is more natural.
I thought that maybe they might have had Koinobori displayed across the river for the boy’s festival, but apparently that is done upriver too.
I was heading towards what I was expecting to be my most challenging lodgings for the trip. By ‘challenging’ I mean B&B with shared toilets & bath. I really didn’t have any other option, although I’d searched high and low for somewhere else to stay. My plan was to walk all the way around the peninsula instead of the ‘quick’ way that many other people do. When I’d called to book my accommodation, the lady on the phone had been quite surprised that I only wanted to stay one night as most people stay two – taking a return one-day trip to the temple and staying another night.
I’d chosen to take the red path (number six) for the next couple of days instead of the more common blue path (number 1). This is one of the rare parts of the pilgrimage that gives you many options for the path to take. In old books about the pilgrimage it says that you should take the long way and it’s actually a lot more interesting and scenic than back-tracking along the same path so I was happy to add another 20km to my journey.
Along the way to my lodgings I needed to cross another bridge, but before that was a 1.6km tunnel in my way. There was no way around that tunnel but fortunately there was a reasonable footpath for me to walk on.
After exiting the tunnel and going over the bridge, a man waved me over to give me ossettai. Looking closely at it, along with the rice crackers there was also an advertisement for his B&B which I thought was a bit sneaky, but I guess two birds with one stone?
I’d actually come across his B&B during my research, and while the $30 a night price tag including curry for dinner was attractive, I didn’t fancy roughing it any more than I was already going to.
I’d played a little game of “Where the hell is the toilet?” all day and when I was thinking the next one was at least an hour a way, I came across a public toilet right in the nick of time. I don’t know what had gone on in that toilet, but someone had been making water balloons out of condoms.
I arrived at my lodgings, Ooki no hama, quite early- about 3pm. I’d actually casually walked along the last few kilometres trying to make my arrival later (And I did donate the riceball I had received from the guys earlier to the birds as I was now back along the coast.) I never did manage to catch up to the guy I’d been tailing all day, but when I walked into the B&B, there he was sitting at the table drinking tea.
The manager was so glad when I turned up and she realised I was a foreigner (I tend to book things using my old Japanese married name just because it makes everything easier). She said there was a Dutch couple also staying who didn’t speak any Japanese so she was glad I was there was translate and talk to them.
I was shown to my room and it was wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting, but it reminded me disturbingly of my university dorm (except with 2 less people in the room!)
I was told that I could take a bath after the guy who had arrived before me. I’d walked 35kms today and was tired so I was happy to put my clothes on to wash and lie down for a while before my bath and dinner.
Dinner was at 6pm and we were all seated around a big table. There were about 6 of us staying that night, all walking pilgrims. Dinner was actually really nice. It was all handmade by the owner and featured a lot of their veggies from the garden. The bamboo shoots had also been taken from the nearby mountain.
During dinner I talked with the Dutch couple and learned that they were walking the whole trail in one go and had decided to do it after completing the Camino De Santiago. They had never been to Japan before and were loving every minute of it. We actually ended up crossing paths several more times and became trail friends.
I also talked with the Japanese pilgrims and all of us were first-timers. They were all planning on taking the shorter path so they could leave their gear at the B&B and just set off with the bare minimum.
We stayed talking in the dinner room for two hours and the owner hovered around talking photos and saying that she loved how Europeans took their time with dinner and relaxed (compared with most of her Japanese guests who scoff their dinner down quickly.)
The people at the B&B were actually really lovely and I enjoyed myself a lot more than I was expecting. The next night was going to be another luxurious stay so I had something nice to look forward to.